Dryandra numbat population thriving but State of Environment report highlights mammal extinction concerns

Headshot of Isabel Vieira
Isabel VieiraNarrogin Observer
A numbat in the Dryandra Woodland National Park.
Camera IconA numbat in the Dryandra Woodland National Park. Credit: Robert McLean/RegionalHUB

The numbat population at Dryandra Woodland National Park is flourishing but conservationist Robert McLean says not enough is being done to protect other vulnerable mammals following the release of the State of Environment report last week.

The Federal Government’s report, which is released every five years, detailed a grim picture of Australia’s environment due to factors such as climate change, habitat loss and invasive species.

The report confirms human activity and global emissions of greenhouse gases is the main driver behind global temperature increases.

Rainfall is declining in the south of Australia and increasing in the north, while droughts, extreme fire weather and intense rainfall events are expected to become more common.

The report also found Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent and has more foreign plant species than native.

It details the majority of the 20 Australian mammal species most at risk from extinction over the next two decades are found in south-west WA and northern Australia.

In 2014, it was estimated that just 50 numbats were roaming Dryandra Woodland National Park but now there are more than 500 individuals, according to the Numbat Task Force.

NTF member Mr McLean said the increasing numbat population at Dryandra was an outlier compared to other mammal populations.

“First of all we shouldn’t really be shocked about what’s in this report because the environment has been the last on the list for years,” he said.

“We are very lucky that at Dryandra that everything is being monitored and looked at closely so that if a problem comes up they can see it and act on it straight away.

“We’ve got these areas of Dryandra Woodland, Upper Warren and Boyagin Nature Reserve that are going great but it’s not great everywhere.”

Mr McLean said invasive species posed the greatest threat to numbats in Narrogin.

“Feral animals are the biggest threat and that’s mainly cats and foxes,” he said.

“If you think about the Wheatbelt here, you don’t have to worry about land clearing because there’s no land left, every decent bit of bush is now protected.

“That’s 93 per cent cleared, we’ve only got to look after 3 per cent and we can’t even do that properly.”

The report states further extinctions of Australian species over the next two decades will occur “unless current management effort and investment are substantially increased”.

“Conservation actions are linked to reduced rates of decline for threatened Australian plants, mammals and birds, but they have not been sufficient to reverse declines overall,” it said.

Mr McLean echoed the call for more investment into environmental conservation.

“We’ve got to start making proper investments in ensuring we can look after the environment because without it we’re gone too,” he said.

“We have to start putting a monetary value on the environment, until we fund things properly, nothing is going to change.

“What would be heart-breaking is if they write another one of these reports in five years and nothing has changed.”

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